Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit recently mused over his 2016 QB rankings in an interview with Breaking Burgundy's Ben Standig. When asked about where Kirk Cousins falls after a historic Redskins season, Benoit had this to say:
I actually did that one the other day . . . and I had him come out 23rd in the NFL for me.
Benoit acknowledges that Cousins is intriguing to people, and the Redskins will have to give him Top 10 QB money if he can repeat his performance from the second half of the 2015 season. He then talks about Cousins' fit in the Redskins scheme.
Within that scheme though, within the context of what they ask him to do, [Cousins] can be much more effective than [23rd] and we saw that last season.
As an individual entity, Kirk Cousins is not an elite quarterback by any means. He's a bottom half quarterback. He's also extremely good and proficient in that offense. I think it's one of the very best designed offenses in the NFL.
I, as much as anyone, was skeptical and down on Kirk Cousins during the beginning of last season. I simply didn't think he had what it took to be a successful starting NFL QB. But what Cousins did and how the team gelled around him during the second half of the season was downright magical. I, more than anyone, am praying Cousins isn't a one-hit wonder and I fully believe he has the talent and ability to lead the Redskins to another division title.
Benoit says the words but I don't think he understands the gravity. Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to an NFCE title despite all odds and pundit's opinions. He did it while learning an offense that progressively got more complex throughout the season and he put up top 10-15 QB numbers. He did it with a roster that was hampered by injuries. He did it without much of a run game.
Cousins proved he could handle the complexity of the offense and go out and execute, culminating in a Redskins playoff appearance. If I'm going over a list of QBs in my mind, I can think of at least 15 guys he's better than. I hope if Cousins proves he can do it again we don't dive into this "system QB" nonsense narrative that Benoit is suggesting. Kirk Cousins hasn't become good because of Jay Gruden's offense. Cousins has become good because he has top QB talent. Those traits work in a multitude of offenses, not just one.